What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is the formal recognition by an independent body, generally known as an accreditation body, that a certification body operates according to international standards. Accreditation demonstrates the competence, impartiality and performance capability of these organisations.
What is an Accreditation Body?
An accreditation body is an authoritative body that performs accreditation. Its primary function is to assess, against internationally agreed standards, organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services (collectively known as conformity assessment bodies).
What is a National Accreditation Focal Point (NAFP)?
A National Accreditation Focal Point (NAFP) acts as the national administrative link between potential clients and established accreditation bodies and is usually responsible for the administration, coordination and marketing of accreditation services. The SKNBS houses the NAFP for Saint Kitts and Nevis.
What is Conformity Assessment?
Conformity assessment is the demonstration that what is being supplied actually meets the requirements specified or claimed. Conformity assessment can be applied to a product or a service, a process, a system, an organisation or persons and includes activities such as testing, inspection, and certification.
What is Certification?
Certification is the provision by an independent body of written assurance (a certificate) that the product, service or system in question meets specific requirements.
Benefits of Accreditation
A regular assessment by an accreditation body checks all aspects of a facility’s operations related to consistently producing accurate and dependable data. Areas for improvement are identified and discussed and a detailed report provided at the end of each visit. Follow-up action is monitored by the accreditation body so the facility is confident that it has taken the appropriate corrective action.
Accreditation has the following benefits:
- test and/or calibration results from accredited labs provide confidence that supplies comply with specifications;
- test and/or calibration data contribute to consistently high quality products;
- users have confidence in the technical capability of the accredited lab;
- users of calibration services have confidence in the accuracy of their measurements;
- reliable test and/or calibration data aid the decision making process for tenders and contracts;
- it can be used as a marketing tool;
- it supports policies to keep abreast of new technological developments;
- it promotes continuous improvement of the services offered; and
- effective management of the laboratory quality system enhances staff discipline and development.
Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA)
The Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme was developed to assist the facilitation of trade within the Caribbean region and internationally. It is based on the principles of mutual cooperation and collaboration amongst the recognized National Accreditation Bodies (NABs), National Accreditation Focal Points (NAFPs) and the CROSQ Secretariat.
In May 2012, a Technical Cooperation Agreement was signed between the Trinidad and Tobago Laboratory Accreditation Service (TTLABS) and the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC) to facilitate the harmonisation of procedures between the two accreditation bodies. Subsequently, in April 2013, the CCA Scheme was formally established through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the CROSQ Secretariat and the NAFPs, as well as the CROSQ Secretariat and the NABs. JANAAC signed the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) Mutual Recognition Arrangement in October 2013 for the scope of testing laboratories. TTLABS continues to move steadily towards signing on to this agreement for testing and medical laboratories.
The CCA Scheme has since become a regional approach for facilitating regional highly skilled QI professionals to provide cost-effective accreditation and solutions for the region. The main objectives of CCA are to ensure that:
- Internationally recognised accreditation services are economical, affordable, convenient and readily accessible for the clients of the region, through what are known as National Accreditation Focal Points (NAFPs); and,
- Opportunities are afforded for market expansion and new product development, thereby assisting the growth and development of National Accreditation Bodies (NABs) in a sustainable manner.
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